Monday, April 07, 2014

Climate Lobby

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Please look carefully at the chart above. What is the biggest contributor to climate change? It’s not the red sector, but the blue one, transportation. See the numbers? Why is this chart skewed to hide the complicity of our cars?

Of all oil consumed in the U.S., 83% fuels transportation. Within transportation, cars and light trucks burn three-fifths of the oil. The quickest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to go car-free.

Government Investment in Transportation

Transportation Budget
Per Capita
Transit + Rail
Per Capita

USDOT
$90,900,000,000
$289.58
$22,274,000,000
$70.96
25%
ODOT
$4,136,000,000
$1,060.78
$145,000,000
$37.19
4%
Benton County
$15,806,640
$182.88
$2,319,898
$26.84
15%
Corvallis
$7,900,861
$143.66
$2,948,750
$53.62
37%
Total
$95,059,707,501
$1,676.91
$22,424,268,648
$188.60
24%

Politicians are positioning themselves as actively fighting climate change, but when we follow the money, it becomes obvious how hypocritical they are.

Consider the infrastructure installed by our government at every level to support personal automobiles. The U.S., with its 214 million motor vehicles, has paved 3.9 million miles of roads, enough to circle the earth at the equator 157 times. In addition to roads, cars require parking space. Imagine a parking lot for 214 million cars and trucks. If that is too difficult, try visualizing a parking lot for 1,000 cars and then imagine what 214,000 of these would look like. Satellite imagery might help.

However we visualize it, the U.S. area devoted to roads and parking lots covers an estimated 61,000 square miles or 39,040,000 acres. If you study any one of these paved areas, you will discover a microclimate approaching a barren desert. Plants are eliminated, soil compressed, hydrological systems disrupted and polluted, and animals become road kill. Multiply that microclimate to a global scale and you begin to realize the impact of pavement.

Our challenge is to move every level of government away from doing the bidding of the asphalt lobby and toward using traffic demand management to make it easier for everybody to use the most efficient, practical modes of transportation – walking, cycling, rail, bus, and jitney. Our opponents include big oil and the automotive industry, some very powerful corporations.

The focal point of this struggle is the state Department of Transportation. The Oregon Department of Transportation issued ODOT’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Report in April of 2012. To paraphrase, it says ”burning fossil fuels has caused the climate to change, so we’ll have to work very hard to keep the highways open so people can keep burning fossil fuels.”

ODOT issues permits for megaloads of tar sands mining equipment and refuses to hear any public opinion. Can we get our legislators to listen to our opinion of the $4B ODOT spends each year destroying our climate?

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